The Dutch Health Minister collapsed today in parliament because of ‘fatigue from intense weeks’ of working against the coronavirus crisis.
Bruno Bruins, 56, fell behind the speaker’s lectern while taking questions and was helped up by fellow ministers. He took a sip of water and was seen leaving the room unassisted.
“I was feeling faint from fatigue and intense weeks. I am feeling better now. I am going home now to rest this evening so I can return tomorrow to fight the corona crisis,” he said in a message on social media.
Bruins is the top government health official in the Netherlands, where the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus rose by 346 on Wednesday to 2,051, with 58 deaths, the country’s National Institute for Health said.
The Dutch government on Sunday ordered the closing of all schools, bars, restaurants, sex clubs and cannabis cafes in a bid to fight the spread of the new coronavirus.
Queues quickly built up at ‘coffee shops’ where cannabis is sold after the announcement, which follows pressure on the government to follow the lead of other European countries.
‘From tomorrow, March 16 until April 6, the coming three weeks, schools and day care centres will be closed except for those children whose parents are in vital jobs,” Education Minister Arie Slob said.
“All restaurants and bars are closing from 6pm (1700 GMT) today as well as sports clubs, saunas, sex clubs and coffee shops (cannabis cafes),” added Bruins.
Many schools have taken measures to put in place distance education via internet streaming, the NOS public broadcaster said.
The announcement comes as the official death toll from the COVID-19 disease climbed to 20 with 1,135 infections in the Netherlands, and political pressure built on Dutch authorities to follow the same route as neighbouring Belgium.
Bruins said that the measure was partly taken as a result of what he referred to as Belgian ‘cafe tourism’.
Dutch news reports said Sunday that bars and restaurants – particularly those close to the southern border – were overwhelmed by Belgian visitors.
All schools and restaurants have been closed in the Netherlands’ southern neighbour since Thursday.
Leopold Lippens, mayor of the Belgian town of Knokke, close to the border called on Belgians to remain home and not travel to the Netherlands, the tabloid De Telegraaf reported.
“If you visit… the Netherlands you stand a chance of bringing the virus back to Belgium,” he told the paper.
“This way we’ll never get it under control,” the Minister said.